Thursday, 30 March 2017

In Review - Garbage Night' by Jen Lee

Garbage Night

Created by Jen Lee.

Full colour. £12.99.

Published by NoBrow.

The Story - 'In a barren and ransacked backyard, a dog named Simon lives with his two best friends: a raccoon and a deer. They spend their days looting the desolate supermarket and waiting for the return of the hallowed 'Garbage Night' - and week after week, the bins remain empty. But rumour has it, there's a nearby town where humans still live. The trio join up with Barnaby, a mysterious stranger, and set off into the unknown.....

Juvenile animals struggle to survive across a post-apocalyptic wasteland in this striking parable about the nature of freedom and friendship.'

"It's fun though, right? .... A world without walls, just doors?'

The Review - Playing with context and preconceptions is something that always makes me sit up and pay attention. Garbage Night along with creator Jen Lee's previous story in the same back yards stage Vacancy are tales that move you out of your comfort zone. She mixes the anthropomorphic with the (seeming) end of the world. A small world nonetheless but one that seems familiar yet also scarily ephemeral.

As a lover of NoBrow's ever growing and developing back catalogue I would hazard a guess that this is beginning to form a significant addition to their stock. 

Garbage night is a no holds barred allegory for the breakdown of modern society. A breakdown that we see on the news and internet on a daily (and ever accelerating) basis. Jen shifts our ragged and ever surviving/commuting/driving/working overtime/finding solice in a sandwich in the park personalities into those of urbanafied animals. Those animals that scurry about in the rubbish bins of the more fortunate looking for food. It is these mirrors that have expertly crafted moments of character and deftly crafted action sequences. Action that is sought from truely desperate circumstances and not some set up car chase or bar fight that one might see elsewhere.

It is also bleakly haunting. It echoes at times with too much reality. You worry that they will not survive the walk across a landscape that at first glance is banal but has hidden moments of danger. It is this edge that changes what could have been a fluffy anthropomorphic story into one that clatters along and you have to reach the end to see what happens.

Jen throws a spanner into the works and introduces a new and crafty friend into the circle. You wonder how this will effect these characters and if Barnaby (a ragged and dangerous looking dog) will affect their dynamic. This grows the tension and plays on our feelings of not wanting this group to split up or fall out.

The language is a cross between the Lord of the Flies/The Walking Dead desperation and those of the more innocent children playing on the slides in the park. It moves the character along with real skill and the creator knows when to slow down and speed up in each sequence. Glances are cast between friends and emotion is snatched out of the story and sent to the reader seamlessly. Hope is rare but present enough to make you believe the motivations.

A comic that can be read on may levels I highly recommend it.

This volume also features the previous story Vacancy that was released under NoBrow's 17x23 series.

Jen Lee was born in Manhattan but grew up in a beach town in Florida. She grew up mimicing the cartoons she was watching and copying them from frame to frame. She jumped from High School to The School of Visual Arts in New York to study comics, graphic design and writing. She then flirted with a career in animal psychology before landing a job as a graphic designer in a software company. She now works freelance for Boom! Studios and the Nickelodeon Channel. Vancancy for NoBrow Press was her first published work.

Find out more about this publisher at or follow them on Twitter @NobbrowPress

Many thanks for reading.

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